It’s officially been two weeks and two days since I finished my second year at Uni. It’s only now I’m starting to see all the tweets about my friends finishing their exams and celebrating the end of the year.. where were you all two weeks ago!? I’ve been sat here watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Youtube – crazy life, I know. Turning to my Mum for inspiration the only constructive advice she had was, start thinking about your dissertation.
About six months ago, as far as I was aware, a dissertation was that really scary thing you did, close to when you graduated Uni. In my mind, I’m still a fresher really and there’s no way that I can be ready to produce a unique, intelligent sounding, 15,000 word essay, right? Oh I was so wrong. CPLAN gets you thinking about your dissertation from April of your second year and I remember sat in my lecture hearing the good news and the bad news. I always like to hear the good news first so, joy of joys you get two and a half days a week timetabled off to work on your dissertation :) The bad news? One of the few departments at Cardiff Uni that seems to require your dissertation to be handed in at the beginning of January, as opposed to April or May. You also have to have an idea for a dissertation formed and a proposal handed in, which is an assessment in itself, by the end of second year.
That bit isn’t as bad as it sounds, the department’s really helpful and there’s a lecture where lots of different lecturers come in and talk about research areas that they’re interested in and any possible ideas they have for dissertation topics. The beauty of my degree is that my dissertation could basically be on anything I wanted as long as it had a geographical element and seeing as nearly everything in this world is connected to a space or a place, that door was wide open. I’ve always had a particular interest in economics so tying that in with geography I’ve decided to do a study on resilience to economic recession and to make it that little bit more unique a great tip is to do a case study of a particular area or in my case a comparative case study.
Going back to that bit of bad news about the deadline, a large proportion of my dissertation needs to be drafted over summer. Just when you think you’re out of the woods and free from any sort of academic related things, it hits you in the face! It’s not just gathering the data, I am absolutely dreading the literature review. Up until now I have craftily used online public documents, newspaper articles and only a few academic works for my assignments. Academic works can be so frustrating, it takes hours to read the tiny writing and half the time I spend ‘reading’ is spent looking up words I don’t understand! I then find they could’ve summarised a whole page into a tiny paragraph if they’d just written in plain english and not sounded so smart. Talk about annoying. My literature review has to be 5000 words, a whole 1/3 of my entire dissertation.
I realise I haven’t really marketed the prospect of a dissertation that well, to anyone who hasn’t yet had the joy of doing one yet! The actual thought of a dissertation now, shouldn’t be that bad, the foundations are all there, I’ve just got write it. However, I’m not sure I’ve written 15,000 words this year even if I put all my assignments together! Realistically, this summer is my best chance at getting my dissertation off to a good start, or I can tell I’ll be buried deep before I even start my third year – god help me. It really does seem like your only summer free of any work is the summer after first year.
So I guess a dissertation is still just as scary now as it was two months ago, or maybe in true student fashion I’m just scared of all the hard work it’s going to require. Time to suck it up and become a ‘good student’ I suppose…OR why do today what I could do tomorrow! We’ll see how long that philosophy lasts me :) I’ve still got four months!